Traditional Chinese Medicine for Diarrhea: An Overview

Diarrhea is a common digestive disorder characterized by frequent, loose, and watery bowel movements. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been used for centuries to address various health issues, including diarrhea. In TCM, diarrhea is often linked to imbalances in the body's energy or "qi," resulting from factors such as cold-dampness, superficial dampness-heat, indigestion, liver offending the spleen, spleen-dampness, and spleen-kidneys yang deficiency. This article explores the TCM approach to treating diarrhea, focusing on the different types and corresponding herbal formulas and dietary recommendations.

Cold-dampness Diarrhea

Symptoms: Abdominal pain, absence of perspiration in hot weather, cold sensations in the lower abdomen and genital region, coughing with low sound, and offensive-smelling soft stools.

Treatment: Remove dampness with aromatic herbs and disperse cold and dry dampness.

Herbal Formula: Huo-Xiang-Zheng-Qi-San

Dietary Recommendations: Cayenne pepper, dill seed, fennel, fresh ginger, mustard seed, prickly ash, star anise, white or yellow mustard, wine, carp, celery, horse bean, jellyfish skin, Job's-tears, hyacinth bean, oregano, sweet basil, adzuki bean, bamboo shoot, and soybean sprouts.

Superficial Dampness-Heat Diarrhea

Symptoms: Burning sensation and itch in the genitals or anus, forceful discharge of stools, yellowish-red, turbid stools with a bad smell, excessive perspiration, low fever, joint pain, and swollen tongue.

Treatment: Clear heat and remove dampness; regulate the stomach and intestine.

Herbal Formula: Ge-Gen-Qin-Lian-Tang

Dietary Recommendations: Carp, celery, horse bean, jellyfish skin, Job's-tears, prickly ash, hyacinth bean, oregano, sweet basil, adzuki bean, bamboo shoot, soybean sprouts, rosin, banana, bitter endive, black fungus, salt, spinach, strawberry, cucumber, leaf beet, mung bean, peppermint, and purslane.

Indigestion Diarrhea

Symptoms: Abdominal pain that lessens following bowel movement, belching of bad breath after meals, chest and diaphragm congestion, diarrhea and constipation, hot sensations in the middle of palms, indigestion, lack of appetite, and vomiting.

Treatment: Promote digestion and regulate the stomach and intestine.

Herbal Formula: Mu-Xiang-Bing-Lang-Wan

Dietary Recommendations: Asafoetida, buckwheat, castor bean, jellyfish, peach, radish, water chestnut, cardamon seed, cayenne pepper, coriander, grapefruit, jackfruit, malt, sweet basil, tea, and tomato.

Liver Offending the Spleen Diarrhea

Symptoms: Abdominal enlargement and pain, abdominal rumbling, chronic diarrhea, diarrhea after abdominal pain, fatigued spirits, and thirst without a desire for drink.

Treatment: Regulate energy, oppress the liver, harmonize the stomach, and support the spleen.

Herbal Formula: Tong-Xie-Yao-Fang

Dietary Recommendations: Brown sugar, kumquat, mandarin orange, apple cucumber, bog bean, gold carp, carrot, chestnut, corn-cob, horse bean, hyacinth bean, Job's-tears, Irish potato, royal jelly, string bean, whitefish, and yam.